Brecon Beacons

The Brecon Beacons are a stunning upland area of natural beauty in the heart of Wales. There are plenty of things to see and do in this spectacular part of the United Kingdom, including walking (both low level and hillwalking), cycling, fishing, golf, caving, birdwatching, kayaking, horse-riding, sailing and gliding. You will find just a taster of all that’s on offer in the Brecon Beacons on this page. Go out and get a deep breath of fresh air – enjoy the great outdoors in the Brecon Beacons.

The Brecon Beacons National Park is one of three national parks in Wales, and was established in 1957 for the preservation and conservation of this unique area. Please look after this natural environment and follow the country code at all times, taking nothing but photographs, and leaving nothing but footprints (in the right places!).

Hillwalking in the Brecon Beacons

There are three ranges of hills in the Brecon Beacons area.

The Black Mountain (in the west, distinct from the Black Mountains in the east) stands pretty much on its own in the western portion of the Brecon Beacons National Park, in Carmarthenshire. The classic route is 8 miles (13 km) long and requires 727 metres of ascent, starting from near Llyn y Fan Fach, off the A40 at Trecastle which is followed down to Llanddeusant.

Pen y Fan is the highest mountain in the Brecon Beacons

Fforest Fawr (meaning Great Forest) is an upland area contained within the National Park which is described as a “geopark”. There is a good walk starting beside the lay-by on the western side of the A470 road (from Brecon to Merthyr Tydfil) – check local maps for detailed directions.

The Brecon Beacons culminate in their high point, at the summit of Pen Y Fan, at a height of 886 metres. This is a great hill and a fantastic day out for the well prepared and properly equipped. If you are in the Brecon Beacons you should also try to visit the spectacular waterfalls of the Afon Mellte, such as the Sgwd yr Pannwr waterfall.

The Black Mountains (in the east) contains excellent hills like Waun Fach (810 metres), with great views towards Pen Y Fan; and also the likes of Pen Gerrigach, Sugar Loaf and Perth-y-Pia.

As well as these ranges of hills, there are three long distance footpaths running through the Brecon Beacons National Park. The Beacon Way is 100 miles in length, running from Abergavenny to Llangadog, and should not be undertaken unless you are properly trained and equipped. The Offa’s Dyke National Trail runs down the eastern perimeter of the National Park. Finally, the Taff Trail is 55 miles long and runs from Cardiff to Brecon.

Caving in the Brecon Beacons

The Brecon Beacons embodies a fantastic limestone karst landscape, with its caves, limestone pavements, shakeholes and dry valleys making it a great place for caving. Everyone, even if they have never been in a cave before, can sample life in the caves by visiting the National Showcaves Centre in the upper Swansea valley, which incorporates the amazing Dan-yr-Ogof cave system, a Dinosaur Park, Shire Horses, Iron Age Farm, cafe and more. Visitors can also go to the entrance of the Porth yr Ogof cave, which is very impressive, but they should not venture any further than the entrance and should take especial care on wet surfaces. There is also a cave beneath Carreg Cennen Castle, however the rest of the caves in the Brecon Beacons National Park are strictly the preserve of the serious and experienced cavers.

Watersports in the Brecon Beacons

There are plenty of watersports opportunities in the Brecon Beacons National Park. The Brecon and Monmouth Canal is a nice and gentle introduction to canoeing, with a more open location available at Llangorse Lake, where a launching fee applies. River canoeing opportunities include the River Usk at Brecon Promenade, and the River Wye at Hay-on-Wye, but be particularly careful if the river waters are high or fast flowing. You should only venture out into any of these locations if you know what you are doing and have all the necessary experience and equipment to hand.

For something a bit different, why not try building a coracle, and sailing it around a duck pond? Only in Wales would you get such a great opportunity as this! Alternatively, electric narrow boats and electric day boats can be hired, as well as rowing boats and pedalos on the River Usk (at Brecon) and at Llangorse Lake. Probably the most leisurely sail of all is on the Dragonfly narrowboat which operates on the canal between Brecon to Brynich, and back to Brecon again, operating on most days in the Summer months.

Golf in the Brecon Beacons

Check out the two principal golf courses in the Brecon Beacons area. These are Cradoc Golf Club, an 18 hole, par 71, parkland course with great views over the National Park; and Palleg and Swansea Valley Golf Club, an 18 hole, par 72, parkland course with great views over the Black Mountain and Swansea Valley.

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